College professors, in many cases, are a lot less willing to hold your hand through course materials than high school teachers are. A lot of students think it couldn’t possibly be that hard to read 50 pages of a textbook and call it a night – but if you’re not really absorbing that material, you’re walking down a dangerous path.
Don’t end up unprepared when exam day rolls around. Make sure you’re not just reading, but you’re also understanding, with these tips.
Give Yourself Time to Read…and Budget it Properly
Reading a textbook is not like reading a novel. You don’t flip from page to page, losing track of time. It’s a lot more time-consuming and requires a lot more close attention. To make sure you’ve got enough time in your study sesh, try budgeting out five minutes per page (so, yes, almost an hour for just ten pages). Then, break it down into sections of ten pages so you don’t burn yourself out.
Start by Skimming
You should go into your reading session with a lay of the land. To get an idea of what you’re getting yourself into, focus on just the chapter’s intro or, if it doesn’t have one, the section headings. Having an idea of what you’ll be learning in this chunk of reading will help you be much more prepared.
Read and Reread
In this part of your study, you should begin reading the first paragraph all the way through. Do this without taking notes or making highlights – simply read and absorb as much as you can. This will help you get an idea of what information is actually important and what isn’t. Sometimes, when you try to highlight as you go, you end up highlighting everything, creating more work for yourself. At the end of the paragraph, highlight the most important sentence (or sentences).
Once you’ve done this for the entirety of your 10 page chunk, go back and review the highlighted sections. Do any necessary re-reading to make sure that you fully understand each highlighted sentence.
In the margins of your text or on a piece of notebook, write questions about the highlighted information. Write one question per paragraph, at least. Then, go back and try to answer those questions. Continue this until you can answer all of the questions without re-visiting the text.
Summarize and Review
Once you feel like you have a section completed, summarize it to yourself. This is a good time to think of any questions you’d like to ask in class – discussing the material is the best way to cement the knowledge in your mind.